Craig: I had a number of great bites this week — including the season's first al fresco tacos al pastor from Los Taquitos de Puebla, which can only mean one thing: the return of the Head House Farmer's Market … what a joy!
Here ares some other great flavors that make up this week's Crumb Tracker Quiz. (1) spinach gnocchi with ricotta salata; (2) peanut butter ice cream double-chocolate chip cookie sandwich (3) artisanal ham plate (with Finchville Farms sugar-cured country ham from Kentucky, with drop biscuits, honey butter and green tomato marmalade (people, this is a "wow" ham if there ever was one). Ready, set … start crumbing!
Okayandy: Is #3 Percy Street Barbecue?
Craig: Yes, indeed, this is the ham, sugar-cured for over a year at Finchville Farms in Kentucky, that was being offered the other night on their rotating country ham plate. Easily one of the most memorable things that have crossed my lips in a couple weeks, its flavor sweet, yet lightly salty and the texture so moist and delicate, it practically melted on my tongue. Pile one of those pink folds atop the crumbly drop biscuit, then dab with sweet and tangy green tomato marmalade … wow.
Jonny: #2 Zsa's Gourmet Ice Cream at Headhouse Square. I did not try it, but it looked tasty!
Craig: Jonny, yes, you've got my Crumb #2. What I loved about Zsa's was not simply the richness and vivid peanut flavor of the ice cream, but her cookies, too, were the perfect texture — at once moist and crumbly and pliant, with nice little chips setting off chunky cocoa bells with every other bite. This was one of those "I better put it down before it's too late" kind of indulgences.
Adam: When going to a restaurant to pick up a takeout meal, do you leave a tip on the credit card?
Craig: You do leave a tip, Adam, because someone has to coordinate, package, and organize that order, which is at least as involved as walking it from the kitchen to your table. However you choose to do that — cash or credit — is up to you. But I always leave a tip on takeout or delivery, 15% minimum.
Al: I struggle with bacalao — the saltiness can overpower everything else. I tried it at Koo-Zee-Doo. Is a type of beer that would be a good match for this steeped-in-tradition food.
Craig: Al, I looove bacalao, but finding that perfect register of flavors on the briny scale is tricky. How assertive does a chef leave that salty fishy funk? I find most chefs are too timid with it — especially in the brandade trend that's been sweeping the city (McCrossen's, Gemelli, Tinto, and several others). KooZeeDoo is one that gets it just right. Even more exciting to me is the "crudo" of salt-cod they were doing a few months ago — the meat is flat like a carpaccio — cured to an almost velvety texture, and glazed with great olive oil and herbal puree. Jamonera (which gets reviewed Sunday) is doing both a brandade-like fish-potato whip, and the raw salt cod crudo. For this, as a match, I'd go for something crisp and cleansing. Sticking with a Portuguese theme — try a vinho verde, which is almost fizzy it's so bright. Manzanilla sherry is another good idea. If you're doing salt cod stewed with tomatoes, I'd go for a Provencale rose. One other great option is a dry-dry-dry European cider. Of course, you asked for a beer. I'm thinking of something light and crisp, like a proper German pils.